"Eve's Diary" Summary

Eve’s Diary” is a 1905 short story that retells the story of Genesis through a series of diary entries narrated by Eve.

  • On the first day of her existence in the Garden of Eden, Eve begins her diary, believing herself to be part of a great experiment.
  • Eve demonstrates a profound appreciation of and curiosity about her surroundings and attempts to win the affection of the insensitive Adam.
  • The two remain together after being expelled from the Garden, and after Eve’s death, Adam reflects that Eden existed wherever Eve did.

Summary

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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1187

Written as diary entries and separated by notations to mark the passing of time, Twain's story presents the Biblical account of creation from a unique perspective. Eve, created from the rib of Adam in the book of Genesis, is given a voice in “Eve’s Diary.” In her diary entries, Eve...

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Written as diary entries and separated by notations to mark the passing of time, Twain's story presents the Biblical account of creation from a unique perspective. Eve, created from the rib of Adam in the book of Genesis, is given a voice in “Eve’s Diary.” In her diary entries, Eve reflects upon her struggles to find her place in the world and to achieve true companionship with her intended mate, Adam, beginning with her first days in the Garden of Eden.

As the first diary entry opens, Eve is nearly a day old and doesn’t yet know of Adam’s existence. She is already quite capable of intellectual thought and believes herself to be some sort of experiment. She considers that she must be vigilant of her position in order to guarantee her continued place in this presumed grand experiment. Eve is also confident from the start and particularly proud of her word choice, especially considering her young age.

Eve is disappointed that the moon has “disappeared” since the previous day and describes how she watched it slide down the sky and fall out of her world. She considers this a great loss and mourns that it wasn’t “fastened better” in place. Eve finds great beauty in the world around her—from the stars, which she tries to knock down with a pole, to the animals, who are a great source of personal comfort. She has a tremendous appreciation for the natural world and cares for even the smallest creatures. She quickly notices that another, particularly interesting creature shares the land with her; she is at first scared of it but finds that it is just as scared of her. Eve determines that this unknown creature must be called a “man.” When she finds him attempting to catch fish in a pool of water, she throws dirt clods at him until he retreats into a tree. Eve is distraught that he could have so little compassion for other creatures and determines that he must be designed for “ungentle work.”

Eve begins following this man around and finds that she has to do all the talking. After a while, he seems pleased to have her around and eventually stops trying to avoid her. Unhappy with the man’s abilities to name all of the animals, Eve takes over this task for him and finds that he is grateful for her help. However, the next day she finds herself cut off from the man’s companionship, which greatly distresses her. Eve cannot think of anything she has done to deserve the man’s unkindness and spends a night out in the rain by herself; the man refuses to talk to her.

A few days later, their relationship is restored, and Eve mentions that she has tried to obtain some apples for the man. Although he tries to tell Eve that the fruit is forbidden and that she will be harmed by such pursuits, Eve dismisses this idea. She reasons that pleasing the man is more important to her than any risk of personal harm. 

Eve attempts to become more intimate with the man and tells him her name, believing that this might pique his interest. Not only does the man seem indifferent, but he also withholds his own name from her. Eve marvels at the talents of the man despite the fact that he doesn’t show any interest in her. She is impressed with his extensive—albeit sparsely utilized—vocabulary.

Eventually the man’s dismissal of Eve begins to weigh on her. She becomes frustrated by his lack of attention toward her and toward creation at large. He thinks flowers are “rubbish” and doesn’t see the beauty in the sunset. Eve notices that his cares are focused on achievements, such as growing hearty and plentiful fruits. Interestingly, it is Eve who first achieves making a fire, and not the man who has been so determined to master the natural world. Eve worries that the fire will not impress the man, because it seems to have no purpose other than providing another source of beauty, which to her “is enough.” The surrounding trees catch fire, and the man dashes to her side, full of questions. Predictably uninterested in her answers, he leaves after obtaining the needed information. Nevertheless, Eve remains hopeful that fire will one day prove useful to them.

The narration then shifts its point of view as an “extract from Adam’s diary” is inserted. His thoughts are much more factual, lacking the emotion and introspection that is woven throughout Eve’s entries. Adam comments that he should “make allowances” for Eve’s behavior, particularly after realizing that she is a beautiful creature. He scoffs at her innate interest in all animals and at her desire to leave no theory untested. In fact, he bemoans her desire to tame a brontosaurus so that she can keep it for a pet. Yet Adam also finds that he is enticed by Eve’s energetic and passionate spirit.

The diary entries then switch back to Eve’s perspective, and she immediately notes that she has been left alone for days with no sign of the man. She takes comfort among the many animals in their world, from tigers to elephants. She enjoys their language and considers the dog and the elephant particularly intelligent.

Eve does not fully understand her world, as is demonstrated by her belief that water somehow has the ability to run uphill, yet she remains steadfast in her determination to improve her reasoning capabilities. Through experimentation, she learns about the scientific principles governing the world, such as laws of density and buoyancy. Knowledge excites Eve, yet there are also moments when her growing sense of understanding leads to sadness. One such moment comes as she gazes at the stars, whose beauty she greatly treasures, and realizes that they cannot last forever.

“The fall of man” is a term used to describe Adam and Eve’s loss of innocence following the consumption of the forbidden fruit, which Eve referenced earlier in her diary entries. “Eve’s Diary” skips over this part of the Genesis story and advances to the period following the “fall,” when they were banished from the Garden of Eden.

Eve has lost the perfection of the Garden, but she has found the love of the man, whose name she still does not indicate. She finds him intelligent, yet she also recognizes his faults. He is inconsiderate, fairly lazy, uneducated, and not chivalrous. Despite these flaws, she finds that she still loves him “merely because he is masculine.” She believes that she would love him even if he abused her and even if he were plain instead of handsome.

Forty years later, the two are still together, and Eve prays that they will depart from life together; if one of them must die first, Eve prays that the man will outlive her, because she is “not so necessary to him as he is to [her].”

The story closes at Eve’s graveside, where Adam reflects that wherever Eve existed, so did Eden.

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